The Eighth and Final Square

with courage face the thing you fear so the pawn becomes the queen

Libby Anne is doing a series on HSLDA vs. CPS, so I figured I’d try and pound out a quick post from my experiences.  I’m not going to write very much about HSLDA, but I’ll link to Libby’s posts so you can go read more about them if you’re unfamiliar.

Basically, HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) has morphed into an organization that prevents abuse from being investigated. When we were kids, we heard the horror stories…the kids who were taken away from their parents because they were spanked; the kids who were taken away from their parents because they were playing outside during school hours; the kids who were taken away from their parents because they were Christians; the kids who were taken away from their parents just because they homeschooled. Even Frank Peretti wrote a book about a single dad whose children were taken away because he was a Christian and the demon possessed people thought he molested them.

From a very young age (actually, probably when I started school), we were instilled with a fear of CPS. We were told we had to make our beds or CPS would take us away because we had no sheets. We were told we had to keep our rooms clean because CPS would take us away if our rooms were messy. When those threats didn’t work, my dad took further measures.

My dad was always getting upset at us kids because the house wasn’t clean. Looking back, he was just being an asshole because we were CHILDREN. Us kids took over the household chores when we were pretty young. It was after Beth was born, and she was born when I was 7, so I was either 7 or 8. Let’s say 8, to be on the safe side. I definitely remember I took over the coffee-making when I was 8, and made it nearly every day until I moved out. Anyway. When I was 8, Ben was 6, Joe was 5, Eric was 3, and Beth was 1. My chores were the family’s laundry, the kitchen, and the dishes (and of course the coffee making). Ben and Joe’s were alternating between the living room and dining room, including cleaning up from meals, setting the table, and vacuuming. Eric’s was to keep the stairs clean. I don’t remember who did the one bathroom…I remember I was made to on more than one occasion, but I don’t remember if that was my chores or what.

We were supposed to get everything spotless before dad came home in the wee hours of the morning. If we didn’t, we would get spanked. Dad threatened to get us up when he came home (a time none of us were awake) to spank us and make us finish, but I don’t remember if that actually ever happened. What did happen, however, is that if the house wasn’t up to his standard (which was insanely high, especially for very young children), on a couple occasions he would strew his dirty laundry around the house (I remember waking up and going downstairs and there was a pair of pants on the ceiling fan!) and pour chocolate syrup on the clean dishes in the dishwasher. To any sane person, making messy things messier (it was probably only marginally messy…like I said, his standards were insane) is idiotic. But there you have it.

I really don’t remember why he was so upset this one day. I couldn’t have been over 10. I don’t remember if they thought we were being extra-rebellious (keep in mind that being upset/grumpy was considered rebellion), or if he was just mad because we couldn’t clean things well enough for him. Whatever it was, he was trying to get us to do something better or more than we were doing already.

We were in the living room. I’m sure he had lectured us, and I don’t even remember what led up to it, but he said something like “because you didn’t do ‘x’ I’m going to call CPS on you and they’re going to take you away.” We were immediately terrified, but I thought he was making a sick joke. Then he went into the other room, to get the phone off mom’s desk. By then, Ben, Joe, and I were completely freaking out and sobbing. One of the boys, I think it was Ben, hid behind the couch. I don’t remember what mom was doing, and my memory of looking at dad is a little fuzzy because of my terror and the tears, but I think I remember him laughing, or at least smiling. He picked up the receiver and in one of the only true acts of defiance I ever showed, I grabbed it out of his hands and unplugged it. I’m pretty sure by then he was laughing, probably because he figured his threat had worked.

The only other time I’ve felt such terror was the night I said I was going to leave, when it took me half an hour to even say the words because I didn’t know how he would react or if he would hit me, and after he said he would “knock my block off” if I didn’t say anything. Even remembering this story, I’m filled with dread and there’s a knot in my stomach, I feel like throwing up, and I’m sweaty and my palms are clammy.

At the end of August (I escaped July 4/5th), an anonymous tipster called CPS on my parents and when I heard about it the terror came rushing over me again. Even though I had just escaped from all sorts of abuse and toxicity, I was terrified my younger siblings would be taken away from my parents and would be separated. Of course my parents followed standard HSLDA procedure (don’t let them in, call HSLDA right away, don’t let them talk to the kids individually alone), and nothing came of it. I wonder what would have happened if HSLDA wasn’t around, and the kids had been allowed to talk to CPS workers alone. Probably still nothing, because even if they hate it, they are still brainwashed to defend my parents. I was.

People who work against CPS in investigating child abuse are deplorable. But there’s a certain level of despicable-ness for the kinds of people who lie to their children and make them fear people who could help them.


Phoenix On April - 20 - 2013

10 Responses so far.

  1. […] there’s more to this, too. When HSLDA teaches children to be afraid of social workers, it is teaching them to see their helpline as the enemy. CPS workers ought to be seen as friends and supporters of children, there to listen to kids and […]

  2. Hillary says:

    Anne, this makes me weep. I’m so, so sorry. Children should never have to go through this.

    Tender love to you.

  3. […] isn’t by any means an experience unique to me. Consider this post from The Eighth and Final Square, entitled, “we were taught to fear the people who could […]

  4. Lana says:

    wow. I was definitely scared of the CPS, but my parents never threated to call the CPS themselves. tehre’s no doubt your parents were abusive, but the CPS probably wouldn’t have removed your siblings even if your siblings had spoken the truth…unless the said they were being beaten or something.

  5. […] isn’t by any means an experience unique to me. Consider this post from The Eighth and Final Square, entitled, “we were taught to fear the people who could […]

  6. Lars Jorgensen says:

    This is sad to read. I have been part of homeschool circles for 25 years. As a leader I got to know a few bad situations that required intervention by leaders and friends. I also heard about CPS disasters locally – not through HSLDA. I knew some of the leaders in HSLDA. They are decent people who have seen abuse by CPS. Are there homeschool parents who are not doing well by their children? Absolutely. Are there more than in other populations? Not amongst the ones I met. But still as leaders we do need to watch for it and reach out to families that are struggling. If your siblings are still under your parents care I would strongly encourage you to go to their pastor privately and explain what has happened.
    If yours is a call to homeschool parents to keep an eye out for abuse in other homeschool children that is fine. I’d add that we should also keep an eye out for eating disorders, cutting, and drugs – we are not immune to the problems of the society we live in.
    Be aware that your comments sound like a general condemnation of homeschooling and HSLDA and generates a strong enough reaction that the message I hope you are trying to send isn’t being heard.

    • Caterina says:

      Lars, do you actually know what it takes to get a child removed from its parents’ care for longer than about a month?

      No? Let me spell it out for you: in order for a child to be permanently removed from the home, not only does a worker need to receive a call, she has to believe the child is unsafe, warranting emergency removal. If the next person in line, the intake worker, does not agree, the child goes back.

      If the intake worker agrees that the child is unsafe, a temporary custody hearing is held in which a judge now has to be convinced that the child is unsafe. If the judge does not agree, the child goes back.

      If the judge agrees that the child is unsafe, the district attorney has to set the wheels in motion for a formal hearing. In the interim, if the DA and the intake worker find that informal measures can be taken to keep the child safe, the child goes back. Are you picking up on the pattern yet?

      If a hearing goes forward, the parents get to tell the judge their side of the story. Should the parents plead guilty to or be found guilty of abuse, it is STILL up to the judge to decide where the child goes. Conditions of return are typically imposed if a judge finds the child is in an unsafe environment at this point. The parents can choose to cooperate with the courts at any time. They can work to fix things and the child goes back.

      There is one small box at the end of some complicated diagrams in my textbook in which, at last, the parents have proven themselves utterly incapable and their rights are terminated, one outcome out of so many possibilities. At every turn, CPS/OCFS and the courts want to find a way to get that child into the safest, most nurturing environment, and the one they pick is usually the child’s own family. Long-term removal (before termination of parental rights) happens just before the end of the process, while the parents are presumably working on whatever was dangerous about the home.

      I refer you to Kirst-Ashman and Hull’s Generalist Practice with Organizations and Communities, 5th ed. for further reading.

  7. […] on HSLDA and child abuse, writes a post about her own homeschooling experience. It is entitled, “we were taught to fear the people who could help.” The author says she, too, was “instilled with a fear of CPS.” As a survivor of abuse […]

  8. Heidi U says:

    I think a lot of people besides home schoolers are afraid of CPS. I was as a child. Not because my parents ever said anything, but because I knew a 7 year old that lived in a group home with teenage boys. I never wanted to be that kid. I didn’t want to go into foster care even if it was bad at my home. I went to ps all my life. Now I am a foster parent and a home schooler. DCFS and such are in my house often because of my foster care licencing and getting kids for visits, counseling my foster kids whatever. They know I home school. It really isn’t a big deal to them. But I have had a couple foster kids in my home that I really cannot understand why they were removed. Parents not stellar, but better then some I know. CPS or anyone that can take your kids can be worrisome. Some times kids are taken wrongly. Sometime the DCFS person thinks you are not a good parent and that’s it. I have seen it from the foster parent side. As Americans no law enforcement officers or DFCS workers should be let in your home without a warrant. That is not a crazy homeschooler thing, that is just our rights as citizens being exercised. All this said, there is a time and place for DCFS to step in. Your family is the example for sure. There are many others from ps and hs and cs. Abuse doesn’t stay in one place.

  9. […] have been raised. Does HSLDA actually teach us to fear the CPS, or did little kids like me and Anne and anonymous and Libby misintrepret that note on the back door? And does HSLDA really defend child […]

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Welcome! This is my space on the internet to explore myself and my life and find my courage to turn into a queen. My Quilt No content on this blog may be used or reproduced elsewhere without a link back.

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